Information before you go
Bali Kuta Beach and Legian beach are one of the most popular villages on the island and attract people from all over the world who are looking for the same thing: a tropical place where you can relax during the day and go wild at night.
This area is the perfect example of things going wrong when it comes to tourism planning. Some might disagree since Kuta attracts the most visitors of all the Bali villages, but once you are there and experience it you will understand that it is heading in the wrong direction.
View of Kuta Beach from Kartika Plaza
Kuta's popularity already started in the mid 1930's when the Americans Bob and Louis Koke discovered at that time quiet beach with magnificent waves. They built the 'Kuta Beach Hotel' (now the Inna Kuta Beach hotel) which became popular among wealthy Europeans and Americans who traveled the world by ocean liners.
After WO II not many travelers visited the island until the 1960s when this quiet and laid-back beach became a magnet in Asia for hippies who travelled from Australia to Europe. Surfers followed, and more Balinese with the help of foreigners started to build hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.
Over the decades, this little village became known as the place where you can enjoy an unforgettable cheap holiday. It expanded slowly towards the neighboring villages of Legian, Seminyak in the north and Tuban in the south. Today when you walk along this famous beach you will not notice when Kuta beach ends and Legian beach starts.
Ready for some surfing?
When it comes to cash coming in you can say that the tourism has had a good impact in this area. But when you look closer you will see that, from a cultural and environmental point of view, the negative consequences of mass tourism are irreversible.
Greed is in our opinion the main cause. Everybody wants to enjoy the ride without considering the consequences it will have to the Balinese and the environment. Building permits are still handed out to large international developers and those from Jakarta without even considering what their impact will be on the current problems. It seems as everybody who is in a position to decide the fate of Kuta just shut their eyes and hope that the problems of lack of water, growing waste and continuous traffic jams will just blow away.
And those who realize that it would be crazy to invest so much in an area that has many unresolved problems just start building at the 'New Kuta Beach', what was formerly known as Dreamland. It looks like the entire Kuta area has lost control with even more accommodation in the form of hotels and luxury villas.
When people say that Bali is killed by its own success then you can immediately see what they mean here...
Hindu procession on the corner of Jalan Legian and Jalan Pantai
As you can imagine, we try to avoid Kuta en Legian at all causes. If we need a short beach vacation in this area we prefer to stay on Tuban beach, where things are still a bit low key.
But in our opinion everything that has put Bali on the map has disappeared in Kuta. Instead, this village has turned into a hotspot similar to those in Europe, Australia and the U.S.A.
If somebody would blind fold you, put you on a plane to Bali and took you straight to Kuta you would have never had guessed you would be in Bali. Which we think is a tremendous shame.
The Memorial for the victims of the Bali Bombing 2002
As mentioned earlier Kuta area is a crowded village which is usually jammed with cars, taxis and motor scooters. The main street that runs through this area is Jalan Legian. This 5 km long main street is a one way street connecting the villages Seminyak, Legian and Kuta with each other.
Traffic jam on Jalan Legian
Along the beach, you have Jalan Pantai Kuta, which is also a one way street running from the south to the north. And everything in between is narrow side streets that connect these two main streets, of which Poppies I and Poppies II are the most famous.
Every inch of these streets is packed with shops, sports bars, restaurants and travel information booths which even promote 'cremation-tours' while along Jalan Pantai on the Kuta waterfront you can mainly find big hotels such as the Hard Rock Hotel Bali and Grand Istana Rama resort. And not to forget the massive new Bali Beach Walk Mall, which pretty much sums up the picture of which way Kuta is heading.
So what is the best way to get around?
When we happen to find ourselves there, we prefer to rent a motor scooter (a bicycle is also a good option) as it makes it easier to take short cuts through the narrow alleys or to squeeze yourself through a traffic jam on Jalan Legian or Jalan Pantai.
Another good option is to walk. But we can imagine that the distances can be too far, so that leaves you with another choice: the taxi. You don’t have to search for them because they are everywhere. When you take one make sure they turn on the taximeter or try to negotiate a reasonable price first before driving off.
A more traditional mode of transportation is a ride on the horse-and-carriage. Only a maximum of 4 people are allowed to hop on though, which is only fair considering the size of the horse...
Hop on for a ride
Important Addresses and Phone Numbers
You can find a Bali Post Office on Jalan Tujung Mekar in the south-east of Poppies Kuta near the Chinese temple and the Pasar Malam (evening market) and is open from Monday to Thursday 8am-3pm, Friday and Saturday till 11.30am, closed on Sunday.
Next to the Chinese temple you can find the Police Station (0361-751598/751998) and there's a tourist police office on Jalan Pantai Kuta next to the beginning of Poppies Kuta II.
The Legian Medical Clinic (0361-758503) can be found on Jalan Legian, Gang Benasari.
The Bali International Medical Center (0361-761263) is located on Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai no. 100X near the Galleria Shopping Arcade.
The SOS Medika Bali Clinic (Emergency number: 0361-710 505) is also located on Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai no. 505X.
Bali Dental Clinic 911 Kuta (0361 - 766255, 7449911) located in Mall Bali Galleria 2nd Floor No. 2c -58/59, Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai
The Tourist Information Center (0361-756176) is located on the corner of Jalan Bakung Sari and Jalan Raya Kuta and open from Monday - Saturday from 8am-6pm.
Airlines: Garuda Indonesia (0361-751011), Japan Airlines (0361-757077), Lufthansa (0361-287069),Singapore Airlines (0361-766942), Air France (0361-288511), KLM (021-2526740), China Airlines (0361-757298), Air New Zealand (0361-756170), Cathay Pacific (0361-753942), Malaysian Airlines (0361-764995), Thai Airways (0361-288141), Eva Air (0361-288511), Qantas Airlines (0361-288331), Continental Airlines (0361-768358) or you can call the Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport (0361 9351011).
The famous and narrow Poppies Lane I
All the negative ranting aside there is one thing that still makes Kuta special. No, it's not the thousands of cheap shops, visiting a spa, hanging at the pub all day or entertainment in the nightclubs. It's what has attracted the first crowd to this popular beach: surfing. Today this beach is still visited by hundreds of surf dudes; advanced, intermediate and beginners from all over the world.
If you are a beginner then this is probably the best place to learn surfing. Early in the morning surf boards are placed upright in the sand while Balinese surf instructors wait for their pupils who want to catch their first waves. If you prefer to get lessons from a licensed surf school then you can find many of them along Jalan Pantai Kuta. The most popular are Kahuna and Quicksilver.
Either way, all the instructors in Bali guarantee that you will be standing on the board after 1 lesson. If not, you will get your money back.
Surfing remains the number one thing to do in Kuta
Besides surfing, this famous beach is also a nice beach for swimming, if there are no dangerous undercurrents. Additionally it is a pretty unique beach in Bali as it stretches from Tuban all the way to Canggu. If you want you can walk miles on end on and pass all the famous beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Best time to go is in the early morning or just before sunset.
I have to admit as hard as I always try to avoid Kuta area, they do have one the most beautiful sunsets on the island....
One of those Kuta beach photos that will never change...
If you do decide to stay in Kuta then you can find many tourist information booths which offer various tours around the area, but also to destinations which I think are pretty out of the way, such as driving all the way up to GitGit waterfalls or to the the hot springs in Banjar.
If you really want to experience something I always recommend an attraction where you don’t have to sit in the car for hours.
From Kuta you can easily reach Tanah Lot, Uluwatu or Ubud. The other great thing to do is to explore the beaches in the southern tip of Bali. You can visit several in one day to take in the different atmospheres. Start off in Nusa Dua, then head to Uluwatu beach to watch the surfers and continue to Padang Padang for a relaxing swim. End your day trip at Jimbaran beach where you can have a delicious dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants.
In Kuta, you can eat anything you can imagine (unfortunately no organic restaurants found so far). So don't be surprised if you bump into your favorite fast food restaurant such as McDonalds or if you can order your regular skim milk latte with a shot of caramel at Starbucks. Yep, they have invaded this little piece of Bali too. For some its a relief but we think that if you choose to head to Bali you should at least try out their delicious local food.
Luckily that is also present in this little crazy town, so no excuses....
One of our favorite restaurants in Kuta is probably also one of the cheapest: Warung Indonesia at Poppies II. It's a popular place and you will always see people eating there. Besides this warung there are many other cheap places to eat in Poppies I and II. So it is pretty easy to find a fresh grilled fish with some steamed white rice on the side.
Enough places to try out local food
If you want something a bit more fancier plus you want to try out more of the Indonesian dishes then we highly recommend heading straight to Ketupat Restaurant. It is located just before the Bali Bombing Memorial on Jalan Legian.
Without a doubt is this the best place in Bali to taste various dishes from the Indonesian Archipelago. Want to try some Sumatran, Javanese, Balinese or Madurese food? This is the place with a great atmosphere too. You'll want to come back too...
Another restaurant that we can recommend for its nice location on the beach and friendly service is Tekor Bali. Actually it is located just north of Kuta beach where Legian beach begins. It's a cute place squeezed between the many Legian bars on the waterfront. While we try to recommend local food or organic food as much as possible in Kuta, this is a pretty difficult. Tekor's menu does lists pastas and other western influences, but they also serve fried, steamed, grilled or baked fish dishes caught that very same day.
So despite being one of the many western-style restaurants we still suggest heading here for their delicious choice in fish dishes.
Home > Bali Kuta Beach Ins and Outs
Ketupat in Kuta is a wonderful restaurant that serves all kinds of dishes from whole of Indonesia. The best place to try Balinese food but also other Indonesian specialities.Read more
The most famous strip of beach in Bali starts at Kuta and ends all the way in Seminyak. Everyday people flock here to enjoy the waves, sand, sun, food and especially drinksRead more
Perched on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, Uluwatu temple is probably the Balinese temple with the most stunning location. Kecak dances are held here too.Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
Hi, I have been travelling for years and I want to say that this website is the best I have EVER come across. It is easy to navigate, it is really descriptive, gives all the info that you could ever want and is accompanied by the best photos and advice. GREAT.